As an organisation, we’ve implemented many remote workforce and mobility solutions for our clients and we’ve seen several challenges crop up again and again. Mobility for mobility sake is rarely enough of a rational for an effective strategy - you need a deeper understanding of business needs and a clear approach to deliver those identified needs. Here are 5 things you can do to minimise the risk of implementing a remote workforce or mobility solution.
1. Identify needs/drivers
Take the time to clearly articulate what outcomes your business wants to achieve by enabling greater mobility for staff. It is surprising how many organisations skip this basic step in the race to acquire the latest technology. This is not an abstract academic exercise, nor is it a question of whether to implement mobility at all. It is a fundamental prerequisite to shape subsequent decisions on technology investment and rollout strategy.
- Which users and groups of users is the mobility strategy intended to help?
- Which applications and groups of applications do those users need to access?
- Which sets of corporate data do those users interact with and how will that differ in a remote context?
- What devices will mobile users require access from, and in what contexts?
And yes, the device question is intentionally last. Don’t fixate on device debates until after you work out what you are trying to achieve and for who in the organisation.
2. Identify best suited technologies
Mobility discussions all too easily devolve into over emphasis on which devices users will be allowed to use outside the office. Rarely though is this the most important question.
Instead some questions to ask are:
- Will you provide the same full suite of desktop applications to remote/mobile users, or will you use the mobility strategy as an opportunity to rationalise applications?
- Is the move to increased mobility an opportune time to introduce greater use of cloud services?
- How will you manage security for remote and mobile users?
- Do you need enhanced remote deployment capabilities, or will you require users to bring devices into the office for upgrades and software rollouts?
- Which mobility management solution(s) will your central IT department use to manage mobile and remote devices?
- Is your network able to support remote workers and provide the same level of functionality to them as if they were in the office?
3. Implement a trial/pilot program
Again, sounds obvious but it is remarkable how often organisations get caught up in the mobility hype and dive in with aggressive implementation timelines and inadequate trials or pilot programs. With so many interrelated considerations, it is critical to use pilot programs to test first and iron out glitches. Trials also make rapid rollback more practical if critical vulnerabilities or deficiencies manifest during the trial.
4. Invite feedback and training
Never lose sight of the fact that mobility & remote workforce strategies are first and foremost about people, not technology. Everything must be driven by granular understanding of user groups, the applications and data they interact with, and how your strategy supports that interaction. That cannot be achieved in a bubble in the central IT team – you need to talk to users. Before. During. After. This is not an optional extra. It is critical. Users can tell you how the strategy is impacting on their daily work – positively and negatively. Users will be far more effective at flushing out those corner use cases that were never anticipated. Organisations that approach mobility strategy as a change management exercise instead of simply a technology implementation are far more likely to achieve desired business outcomes.
5. Iterate on your successes
Learn fast. Fail fast and fail forward. Careful needs analysis, targeted trials and deliberate user engagement to obtain meaningful feedback make it possible. Clearly articulate what you want to achieve, carefully identify appropriate approaches to achieve it, test fast and targeted, seek feedback. Then use that to refine the approach. Rinse and repeat as you continue to rollout an effective remote workforce and mobility strategy. Get it right and you can transform your organisation with dramatically enhanced productive for mobile and remote workers.